Commentary, Trump Administration

This morning’s best editorial: Trump makes the wrong call on the economy

Be sure to check out the lead editorial in this morning’s Washington Post. As the authors note in “Americans still need pandemic aid. Trump is ensuring they’ll get nothing.”: President Trump’s inexplicable and mean-spirited refusal to negotiate a new pandemic relief package is a huge mistake:

WE DO not pretend to understand the political logic that impelled President Trump to call off talks over a new economic support package with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). An agreement could have boosted his flagging electoral prospects; and surely his popularity among Republicans gave him the clout to overcome the hesitancy of some GOP senators to vote yes on any package, which was apparently one factor in his decision.

What is evident, though, is that Mr. Trump has made the wrong call for the U.S. economy. It remains weak due to coronavirus-related limitations, especially in sectors such as retail, airlines, restaurants and hotels. Unemployment is still at 7.9 percent — concentrated among low-income workers, who are disproportionately Black and Latino — and temporary job losses are mutating into permanent ones. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell is openly calling for more aggressive fiscal intervention, warning policymakers not to focus on “the risks of overdoing it.”

Meanwhile human suffering continues to rise. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported yesterday, a third of American adults are now having trouble paying basic household expenses:

Nearly 78 million adults – about 1 in 3 – are having trouble paying for usual household expenses, today’s Census data show. Along with other data showing that hardship has significantly worsened due to COVID-19 and its economic fallout, the figures underscore the urgent need for policymakers to resume negotiations — which the President ended abruptly yesterday — and enact a robust, bipartisan economic relief package.

The Census Bureau data show that 2.4 million North Carolinians now find themselves in this foundering boat.

The bottom line: Americans are suffering like they haven’t in decades and thanks to the president’s irrational and irresponsible refusal to negotiate in good faith, that suffering continues to worsen by the day.

Commentary, Trump Administration

Trump throws a tantrum and assures that millions will continue to suffer

With a national election well underway and his standing in the polls continuing to decline, President Donald Trump is starting to behave like a child who, upset at the path of a neighborhood sporting contest, decides to take the ball and go home.

This is from a story posted last night by the Washington Post:

In a series of tweets less than 24 hours after he was released from a hospital, Trump accused Pelosi (D-Calif.) of failing to negotiate in good faith, after she rejected an opening bid from [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin in their latest round of talks.

“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump wrote.

Trump’s surprising announcement stood in stark contrast with recommendations from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell, who had said in a speech hours earlier that more economic stimulus was needed to sustain the recovery.

Trump’s tweets sent the stock market lower, as many businesses, households and investors had been hoping for a jolt of fiscal stimulus amid signs the economy had lost momentum. The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 376 points, or 1.3 percent. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 also fell.

That such a stance will be disastrous for the millions of Americans already suffering as a result of the failed national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating recession it has spawned is something that has been exhaustively and painfully documented. As the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported on Monday, according to the Census Bureau, one-in-seven U.S. households with children did not have enough food to eat in early September. For Black families, the number is almost one-in-five.

CBPP also reports that fully a quarter of the nation’s renters with children are behind on their rent payments and that more than a third of children in renter households reside in homes that have too little food and/or are behind on rent payments.

All in all, it’s a crisis of stunning and tragic proportions — the kind of disaster you’d expect to see in the old Soviet bloc or the developing world.

Meanwhile, the leader of the nation — a man who it seems increasingly likely will be president for only another 100 days or so — continues, in a fit pique, to block desperately needed relief. Like a hostage taker quickly getting down to his last few desperate options, Trump has apparently decided to attempt to threaten his way to reelection. It’s hard to see how this will work out well for anyone.

News, Trump Administration

Trump plans to leave the hospital and return to the White House on Monday night

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump is expected to leave Walter Reed National Military Hospital on Monday evening, announcing his plans in a social media post that declared he’s “feeling really good” as he recovers from COVID-19.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump tweeted from his suite at the hospital in suburban Maryland. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

The president’s pending departure from Walter Reed follows a weekend in which his doctors and top staffers offered conflicting messages on his condition. On Saturday, Trump’s physician, Dr. Sean P. Conley, offered a rosy assessment of Trump showing improvements, while the president’s chief of staff Mark Meadows presented a starker outlook immediately after that briefing.

Before and during his hospital stay, Trump received several experimental treatments, including the antiviral drug remdesivir and dexamethasone, typically used in severe COVID-19 cases.

His doctors did confirm that he received supplemental oxygen at times and that his blood oxygen levels dropped at least twice since he tweeted about his diagnosis early Friday morning.

By Sunday evening, Trump and his security detail loaded into SUVs, so the president—who was wearing a cloth face mask—could wave to supporters gathered outside the hospital.

Speaking to reporters shortly after the president’s tweet about returning to the White House, Conley described Trump as “up and back to his old self, predominantly.” Conley declined to disclose certain details, including specifics of what the president’s lung scans showed, citing federal health confidentiality laws.

Conley also did not elaborate on any plans for how the president would quarantine at home, including whether he would remain in the residence instead of using the Oval Office, or other details about how the administration planned to safeguard the health of the many staffers who work at the White House.

He said that with any hospital patient, the goal is to return them home as soon as possible.

“Right now, there’s nothing that’s being done upstairs here that we can’t safely conduct” at the White House, Conley said.

Conley declined to give a date for when the president could travel again, saying that doctors will continue monitoring his virus levels.

Asked about the seven-to-10-day window he had stated as the most critical for COVID-19 patients, which is yet to come, Conley acknowledged they are in “uncharted territory” when it comes to the experimental treatments that Trump has received, and that he’ll remain under close observation through the weekend.

“If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final deep sigh of relief,” Conley said.

COVID-19, News, Trump Administration

The latest on Trump’s positive COVID test; Biden tests negative

Trump in ‘good spirits’ after testing positive for COVID-19

By Laura Olson, Jane Norman and Ariana Figueroa

(This story has been updated)

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, throwing the presidential campaign into a new uproar.

“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters Friday morning that the president is experiencing mild symptoms, but is in “good spirits” and “very energetic.”

“We have a president who not only is on the job, will remain on the job,” said Meadows, who spoke without a mask, saying he tested negative. “I’m optimistic that he’ll have a very quick and speedy recovery.”

Late Thursday, Bloomberg News had reported that Hope Hicks, a close aide to Trump, had tested positive for the virus. Hicks had traveled to and from the presidential debate in Cleveland on Air Force One with Trump and also traveled to Minnesota with him, Bloomberg said.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the efficacy of wearing a face mask and other safety precautions, contradicting top health officials in his administration, and is rarely seen wearing one as he presides over large rallies packed with maskless attendees.

At Tuesday’s debate, Trump said he wears one when he “needs to,” and derided Biden for routinely wearing a face covering. He has insisted that his approach is fine because those close to him are tested every day.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who shared the debate stage with Trump on Tuesday, posted on Twitter Friday that he and his wife, Jill, tested negative for the virus. “Thank you to everyone for your messages of concern,” he said. “I hope this serves as a reminder: wear a mask, keep social distance and wash your hands.”

In addition, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the Bidens’ physician, issued a statement through the campaign. “Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden underwent PCR testing for COVID-19 today and COVID-19 was not detected,” he said.

Earlier Biden wished the president and first lady a swift recovery.

Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary tweeted that Pence and his wife, Karen, tested negative for the virus on Friday morning.

Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, tweeted Friday that he, too, has tested positive for COVID-19. Lee had met on Tuesday with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and posted a photo on Twitter showing that meeting, in which neither of them were wearing masks.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who shared a debate stage with Trump on Tuesday, posted on Twitter Friday morning, wishing the president a swift recovery.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” Biden tweeted. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.” Read more

Commentary, Housing, Trump Administration

Housing advocates: New Trump administration rule will promote discrimination

The good people at the National Housing Law Project issued a sobering statement this afternoon about yet another effort by the Trump administration to weaken the nation’s civil rights laws.

Trump Administration Promotes Housing Discrimination with New HUD Rule

In yet another attack on the nation’s civil rights laws, the Trump administration has announced that it will publish a weakened fair housing rule tomorrow. The new disparate impact rule dismantles decades of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) policy embodied in the 2013 rule and undermines the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Inclusive Communities, which affirmed the disparate impact doctrine under the Fair Housing Act.

“It is difficult to believe that our nation’s federal housing agency is promoting housing discrimination in the middle of a pandemic and related housing crisis,” said Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project. “While the rest of the country is demanding racial justice, the Administration attempts to eliminate one of the nation’s most important civil rights tools and writes the playbook on how to discriminate without getting caught.”

Practically speaking, the new HUD rule would sideline disparate impact as a usable legal tool to tackle systemic housing discrimination. This means that landlords, lenders, and other housing providers would be free to engage in activities that deprive people of color, domestic violence survivors, families with children, people with disabilities, and others of housing opportunities – so long as a discriminatory intent could not be shown.

“The core of the National Housing Law Project’s mission is to promote access to safe, decent, and affordable housing for those who are all too often denied such opportunities. HUD’s attack on disparate impact may make our mission harder, but we resolve to continue this fight,” continued Roller.

Civil rights and housing groups uniformly oppose the rule, which received more than 45,000 comments. The new regulation dismisses the majority of comments opposed, as it did with the new HUD rule that replaced the affirmatively furthering fair housing rule. NHLP and partnering organizations worked to oppose both rules through the #FightforHousingJustice campaign.

The publication of this rule continues the Trump Administration’s abysmal record on fair housing and civil rights. HUD just concluded public comment on the agency’s proposed anti-trans rule that would allow shelters funded with taxpayer dollars to turn away transgender and gender non-conforming people simply because of who they are. The proposed rule would eliminate the Equal Access Rule that ensures transgender people can access HUD-funded shelters that align with their gender iden